Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 95

to be govern'd by suitable good and wise
rules, which good and wise men may probably be more unanimous in their
obedience to, than common people are to common laws.

"I at present think that whoever attempts this aright, and is well
qualified, cannot fail of pleasing God, and of meeting with success.

B. F."

Revolving this project in my mind, as to be undertaken hereafter, when
my circumstances should afford me the necessary leisure, I put down
from time to time, on pieces of paper, such thoughts as occurr'd to me
respecting it. Most of these are lost; but I find one purporting to be
the substance of an intended creed, containing, as I thought, the
essentials of every known religion, and being free of everything that
might shock the professors of any religion. It is express'd in these
words, viz.:

"That there is one God, who made all things.

"That he governs the world by his providence.

"That he ought to be worshiped by adoration, prayer, and
thanksgiving.

"But that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man.

"That the soul is immortal.

"And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, either
here or hereafter."

My ideas at that time were, that the sect should be begun and spread
at first among young and single men only; that each person to be
initiated should not only declare his assent to such creed, but should
have exercised himself with the thirteen weeks' examination and
practice of the virtues, as in the beforemention'd model; that the
existence of such a society should be kept a secret, till it was
become considerable, to prevent solicitations for the admission of
improper persons, but that the members should each of them search
among his acquaintance for ingenuous, well-disposed youths, to whom,
with prudent caution, the scheme should be gradually communicated;
that the members should engage to afford their advice, assistance, and
support to each other in promoting one another's interests, business,
and advancement in life; that, for distinction, we should be call'd
_The Society of the Free and Easy_: free, as being, by the general
practice and habit of the virtues, free from the dominion of vice;
and particularly by the practice of industry and frugality, free from
debt, which exposes a man to confinement, and a species of slavery to
his creditors.

This is as much as I can now recollect of the project, except that I
communicated it in part to two young men, who adopted it with some
enthusiasm; but my then narrow circumstances, and the necessity I was
under of sticking close to my business, occasioned my

Last Page Next Page

Text Comparison with The Complete Works in Philosophy, Politics and Morals of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 3 [of 3]

Page 5
Franklin 365 Dr.
Page 12
The establishing of new colonies westward on the Ohio and the lakes (a matter of considerable importance to the increase of British trade and power, to the breaking that of the French, and to the protection and security of our present colonies,) would best be carried on by a joint union.
Page 29
V.
Page 34
It is, I suppose, agreed to be the general interest of any state, that its people be numerous and rich; men enow to fight in its defence, and enow to pay sufficient taxes to defray the charge; for these circumstances tend to the security of the state, and its protection from foreign power.
Page 42
V.
Page 50
America best cultivates what Germany brought forth.
Page 92
Perhaps too, a few of the land-owners of Guadaloupe might dwell and spend their fortunes in Britain (though probably much fewer than of the inhabitants of North America.
Page 98
[37] Remarks, p.
Page 139
" The disagreements in question are proprietary disagreements in government, relating to proprietary private interests.
Page 148
For six of the years in which I was annually chosen, I was absent, residing in England; during all which time, your secret and open attacks upon my character and reputation were incessant; and yet you gained no ground.
Page 157
If it is thought proper to carry the trading part of this plan into execution, would it not be well to _try it first in a few posts_, to which the present colony laws for regulating the Indian trade do not reach; that by experience its utility may be ascertained, or its defects discovered and amended, before it is made general, and those laws repealed to make way for it?--If the Indians find by experience, that they are better used in their trade at the posts, under these regulations, than at other places, may it not make them desirous of having the regulations extended to other places; and when extended, better satisfied with them upon reflection and comparison[74]? FOOTNOTES: [72] The plan remarked upon was under the consideration of ministry before the close of the year 1766, and (as I am inclined to think) after the commencement of 1765.
Page 185
_ You say, they do not object to the right of parliament, in laying duties on goods to be paid on their importation: now, is there any kind of difference between a duty on the _importation_ of goods, and an excise on their _consumption_? _A.
Page 207
B.
Page 240
With regard to the first, _that the colonies were_ settled _at the expence of Britain_, it is a known fact, that none of the twelve united colonies were settled, or even discovered, at the expence of England.
Page 326
When I was a child, at seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers.
Page 336
2.
Page 341
_--Well then, to my office; it should not be forgotten, that I am your physician.
Page 350
The committee may attempt the institution of some useful and simple manufactures, which require but little skill, and also may assist, in commencing business, such as appear to be qualified for it.
Page 352
M.
Page 420
remarks on his treatment of Franklin before the privy council, iii.